Every Day I’m Struggling

I know that this is like, the ultimate white girl problem, but I really struggle with working out.

I’ve just… never really liked it. I didn’t grow up in a super active family, I was never very athletic and don’t have great physical coordination. I don’t love getting sweaty, and I hate being obligated to shower (especially with my various hair colors, where it’s important not to wash my hair too frequently.) Working out is not something I’ve ever been able to easily work into my routine (primarily because I never tried that hard to work it into my routine, but I digress), and it’s not something I’m used to doing on a daily basis.

The P90 schedule 

But, as you are aware, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and really shift my health and weight loss efforts to have a major emphasis on fitness.

Which, you know, means I actually have to work out.

And, amazingly enough, I am! Frankly, I’m pretty impressed with myself for simply being able to say that I’m two weeks in to this daily working out thing and I haven’t missed one yet! Given that I’m pretty sure I could win the Guinness World Record for World’s Laziest Woman, that’s a pretty big milestone for me.

But before I give myself too many self-congratulatory pats on the back, I gotta be honest. Because while I did work out yesterday, it was the first day where I almost didn’t. I almost skipped my workout, and I almost broke my streak.

Sure, I’m sure I could’ve mentally justified it if I had gone ahead and skipped out on my gettin’ sweaty time. I was tired — I didn’t fall asleep until 3 AM the night before.  I had a lot of work stuff on my plate. It was cold and I feel like I’m getting sick and I wanted to take a nap and blah blah blah. Miraculously, I managed to hold steady against all of these built-in excuses and peel myself off the couch long enough to work out… at about 9 PM.

Now, I know, I know, the important thing is that I didn’t skip it, that I did do it, even if it was late in the day, even if it was as a last-resort, and I should feel good about that. Except, I didn’t really feel good about how the workout went either.

My muscles were heavy, my body was aching, and everything seemed like it took three times as much effort. So I only really made it about halfway through the workout before essentially giving up and just half-assing the rest of the moves.

And I didn’t feel so great about that. Which is also kind of a new feeling for me, because who would’ve known? Who really cares if I don’t give my 100% during a workout? It’s not like Tony Horton is going to crawl through my TV set to give me what-for. But, as it turns out, I care! Who knew?!

And after giving it a little bit of thought, I think that I came to some important realizations that will probably be good to note as I continue through this journey:

1. Taking a rest day is important.

I didn’t take my rest day on Sunday like I was supposed to. I did an extra day of cardio because I had started P90 mid-week, and I wanted to make sure my first week started strong. And as someone who has always had a disproportionate number of rest days over workout days (you know, like, 10:1, ahahaha), I didn’t really realize that giving your body a day to recover — even if it doesn’t feel like you need to recover — is an important thing.

I think that my body feeling sluggish and my legs feeling heavy and all that stuff is, at least in part, due to me not giving myself enough time to really recover. Not that I’m here running marathons or anything, and hey, maybe when I’m a little bit more fit, I won’t really need a full rest day, because my body will be much more used to pushing itself. But at least for now, while things are still new, my body’s still adjusting, and my muscles are still being woken up from their long, long slumber, I should keep a closer eye on things and let myself rest if need be.

2. Turns out, fueling your body right matters.

I’ve never been a huge fan of health lingo. I’d kind of roll my eyes or find my mouth forming a smug little smirk anytime I read references to “fueling the machine” or “feeding the temple.” I mean, it’s just EATING, right?! Well, maybe it’s not, exactly.

Turns out that if you are trying to lead a more active lifestyle, these terms start to take on a little more meaning. The timing of when you eat really does impact how energized you feel — i.e. “You gotta fill the tank before going for a drive!” (LOL eyeroll.) I used to go most of the day without eating, and would only finally eat my first meal of the day in the mid-to-late afternoon. But now? If I expect myself to workout in the morning, I need to make sure I’ve eaten something beforehand. Only, not right beforehand, because my acid reflux is bad enough without sprawls and burpees contributing to the issue, haha.

Yesterday, my eating schedule got a little messed up due to a series of appointments & meetings that I had mid-morning. So I didn’t really end up eating anything of significance until around 2 PM, and I do think that contributed heavily to my lack of motivation to workout.

Furthermore, due to my slightly hectic schedule, for the first time in the past two weeks, I totally picked convenience over nutrition. Which actually brings me to my final point…

3. Not all calories are created equal.

I like to think that I’m pretty knowledgable about calories at this point. I’ve been counting ’em for a long time. I can tell you off the top of my head how many calories are in an egg (70) or a banana (90) or a cup of romaine (8). And while I was losing weight the first time around, I took a lot of pride in being creative with my daily calorie counts.

I felt (and I do still feel) that it’s totally possible for you to continue going out to eat and ordering in, and still lose weight. Because a calorie is a calorie, right? Even if you eat out a lot, you can still make food choices that keep your calories a little lower. And if you were to spend two-thirds of your daily caloric allotment on fast food, but still stay under your overall intake goal, it’s not that big a deal. Because as long as your total number of calories in is lower than your total number of calories out, you’ll eventually lose weight.

Weeeell, I still believe that’s true. Kind of. However, when you add physical exertion into the equation, the type of food you’re ingesting becomes a lot more important. Suddenly, your body is actively utilizing the calories you ingest for energy. To make it so you are physically able to do the sprints and the press jacks and the side lunges and the tricep dips. And the kind of energy your body extracts from a McDouble (390) is definitely different than what it might take from, say, a salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, and avocado (which could land you around 390).

Given my poor performance yesterday, I feel pretty confident that the kinds of calories I need to consume matter a little more than they used to. I had a lazy, convenience-driven day yesterday, and I really felt it in my muscles when I worked out. I felt sluggish and heavy and just general not-great. So while a calorie may just be a calorie when it comes to weight loss, a calorie is NOT just a calorie when it comes to fitness.

So, yeah. Consider these my beginner’s lessons learned thus far. Granted, it may be a little bit silly for me to be trying to spout these wisdoms now, with my active lifestyle still in its relative infancy. But, hey, a learning is a learning, right?

I mean, all that said, I am still proud of myself for rallying and working out yesterday. In spite of the many factors I had working against me, at least I can say that I tried! And some activity is always better than no activity, there’s no doubt about that.

Besides, today is a brand new day, so hopefully with some better fuel in my system (oatmeal for breakfast!) a full-night’s sleep (in bed by 1 AM!) and a more normalized eating schedule (awake in the single digits!), I’ll be back to sweating it out and feeling good about it in no time!

9 Comments

  1. I completely understand wanting to start strong, but I’m glad you realize the importance of rest day, it sounds like your body really needed it. Keep up the good work, you’ve got this!

  2. Love this post!!

  3. Erinsays:

    Hey Gretchen! I wanted to pop in to say that I’m glad you’re blogging regularly again. I have been a semi-regularly gym dabbler for a while, but I’ve been making a push since the beginning of the year to really step it up at the gym. I, too, have noticed that the quality of food I eat contributes or detracts from my workout. Hydration also is hugely impactful for me, as is quality sleep. I’m also trying to drop weight and it’s refreshing to see others also focus on more than just calories!

  4. You have motivated me to work out tonight (was totally going to skip). Consistency and dedication for the win!

  5. Rachelsays:

    First, yay for activeness!
    Second, a good rest is the best part of the day. But as I keep realizing, all ‘rest’ is not created equal. Ditto calories/food.
    Third. I love your pictures for this post.

  6. Kellysays:

    Hi Gretchen,
    Long time reader. I find it’s easier to lose weight if I eat three meals a day at about the same time and go to sleep early and get up early at about the same time each day. Just a tip. Good luck!

  7. Andrea Bsays:

    Hi sweets! So proud of you for getting your workout in. It can be so hard sometimes. Rest days are super important, as is eating good meals, but I also find eating well AFTER a work out contributes to things like how well my muscles feel the next day, and my energy level. Also be sure to stay hydrated during the day. Love watching your fitness journey as I continue mine! Xoxoxo

  8. Great post and so so true!

  9. I’ve been through these same realizations, and I will tell you in complete honesty that you will probably keep having these realizations over and over. I think it helps to have “bad” exercise days like this every once in a while, because it allows us to step back and see what went wrong. Often it does link back to nutrition, like you found, but sometimes I find I’m just not trying that hard and I’m almost like pitying myself and allowing myself to make excuses when I really could try harder. When I realize that, I remind myself to “do the work”. But even then, there are still going to be days where you just don’t put in the work, even though you know you should. Or when you fueled properly for a workout and you still just have no oomph in your movements. But part of being consistent with losing weight is knowing it’s not always going to go according to plan or according to how you wish it would. Be gentle with yourself, shrug it off, and do better the next day. One of my favorite quotes ever is from Voltaire–“Don’t let perfect by the enemy of the good”, and I think it’s endlessly relevant to changing over to a healthier lifestyle.

    Oh, and I recommend watching the movie “Fed Up”. It sheds some light on a calorie not really being a calorie. These days, I’ve found that the most helpful and easy nutrition tip is to make sure half my plate is always vegetables or fruits. It’s really easy to get into the trap of “but good fats, or healthy grains!” but a bunch of leafy greens or cruciferous veggies are gonna do way more good for your body than some cashews or brown rice.

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